1 May march by Czech neo-Nazis was dispersed and torches were put out, but antisemitic abuse was expressed
On 1 May 2019, the secretary of the municipal department of Brno-střed, Petr Štika, dissolved an assembly by about 50 neo-Nazis in the city of Brno as their march was underway. Hundreds of people blockaded the march, which did not reach its destination and instead stopped to make speeches at a different location.
Štika proposed to the marchers that they proceed along a different route, but they rejected the suggestion. The secretary then dissolved the assembly, explaining that lives and property were being endangered by its presence.
The event was supervised by hundreds of police officers, including several dozen riot units. Hundreds of blockaders gathered and played amplified recordings of music performed by a local theater company in order to drown out the speeches being made, and they also began riding bicycles very close by the right-wing radicals.
A police helicopter also monitored the proceedings. The march, which was originally planned to include carrying torches, was convened by the neo-Nazi National and Social Front (Národní a sociální fronta - NSF).
The NSF is comprised of former activists from the Workers' Youth (DM) and informal neo-Nazi groups. The organization is distinctly oriented toward the international movement and is doing its best to draw inspiration from neo-Nazis in nearby countries.
Members of the group attended last November's "Independence March" in Warsaw, for example, and maintain friendly relations with colleagues in Germany and Italy. Those opposed to them blockaded the march in Brno right at its starting point.
A scuffle broke out, but police quickly subdued the conflict and detained a couple of people. They then created a corridor so the march could proceed to the Nový sady area, where speeches were given.
At that location a couple of firecrackers were exploded. Officers had also arrested several more people as the march proceeded.
The corridor was comprised of riot units, police vans, canine units and mounted police. The neo-Nazis shouted slogans such as "A Jew-ocracy is rotting in our state".
Among those leading the march was, for example, Vlastimil Pechanec, previously convicted of the racially-motivated murder of a Romani man in Svitavy. According to the In IUSTITIA organization, the municipality ignored instances of the law on public assembly being broken and should not have done so.
"The slogan 'A Jew-ocracy is rotting in our state', expressed by the leader of the NSF at today's demo in Brno, is illegal and is sufficient grounds to disperse the demo on the spot," the organization said. The assembly was not dispersed until it reached Nový sady, where a handful of neo-Nazis were surrounded by blockaders.
The neo-Nazis had wanted to begin marching with torches at that juncture. It was then that Štika said they would have to change their route if they wanted to proceed.
The condition was not accepted by the marchers and the assembly was then officially dissolved. The neo-Nazis then lit their torches anyway and prepared to march with them.
The secretary warned them that the assembly had been dissolved and called on them to put out the torches. The police reiterated that instruction and the neo-Nazis obediently doused the torches in a bucket of water.
The neo-Nazis then began to put on white t-shirts distributed by the organizers of the march and left the assembly area, to the applause and mockery of hundreds of people. Police arrested six people total.
"Two officers were injured," police spokesperson Pavel Šváb reported. Prior to the neo-Nazi assembly, those preparing to blockade them had gathered in front of City Hall.
Speeches were given there by the Slovak Jewish sociologist Fedor Gál, the Romani musician Gejza Horváth, and Zdena Mašínová, whose family was persecuted by both the Nazis and the Communists and who has been recognized as a fighter for democracy, freedom and human rights in the Czech Republic.
The anti-Fascists who gathered engaged in various forms of games, such as chess, drumming and hoola-hooping. Their plan was to face down the right-wing radicals in a playful way by performing music or scenes from theater productions during the march.
Local Romani residents joined those attending the anti-racist assembly. 1 May in Brno has repeatedly become a day for scuffles and verbal clashes between anti-Fascists and right-wing radicals.
Two years ago, 150 right-wing radicals marched through the city and were blockaded by 300 of their opponents. Police intervened.
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